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Reproduced courtesy of the Allcot Trust

SS BENALLA fights submarine off Crete, Mediterranean, 3 December 1915

Date: 1919
Framed dimensions: 490 × 1130 × 35 mm
Medium: Watercolour on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Norma Dorothy Free Bequest
Object Copyright: © Allcot Trust
Object Name: Watercolour
Object No: 00049112

User Terms

    A watercolour painting by the maritime artist John Allcot of the HMAT BENALLA in the midst of battle in 1919. The BENALLA had responded to a distress call by the SS TORILLA who was being attacked by a German submarine.
    SignificanceJohn Allcot became a well known maritime artist and at a time of "great change in the shipping industry, he specialized in nostalgic views of sailing ships and steamers, and found an appreciative market of ship-owners, captains, crews and their families" (Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, Fletcher, D., Australian National University, 1993).
    HistoryThe SS TORILLA was on her way unescorted from Port Said to Marseilles with a full complement of troops when the German submarine U39 was sighted on the surface shelling another steamer. The TORILLA promptly turned tail and sent out a call for help. She was pursued by the submarine and was fired upon. She had returned fir when HMAT BENALLA responded to her call. The BENALLA had been on her way from Alexandria to Malta with troops aboard, when she received the distress signal from TORILLA, "proceeding to her assistance at full speed, Cockburn brought the BENALLA'S 4.7-inch gun into action at about 8,000 yards range, and after two or three accurate rounds the enemy commander was persuaded ‘to turn tail and proceed Westward" (D.S.C. London Gazette, 22 December, 1916). She then remained with the smaller ship, TORILLA, until naval forces arrived.
    The Commander of the BENALLA, Commander George Cockman, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions on the day and "In recognition of zeal and devotion to duty shown in carrying on the trade of the country during the War".

    Additional Titles

    Primary title: SS BENALLA fights submarine off Crete, Mediterranean, 3 December 1915

    Collection title: Material from the bequest of Norma Dorothy Free: Ephemera, telescope, paintings

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